Mikaila Ulmer of Austin, Texas has produced a refreshing and sustainable beverage, pulled $60,000 in startup funding from one of the world’s leading fashion moguls on ‘Shark Tank,’ and secured a four-state contract with Whole Foods. She’s 11 years old.
Mikaila didn’t start off with your average lemonade stand. In fact, she wasn’t at all interested in lemonade until she sustained two bee stings in a single week at the age of four. Though the stings upset her, they also inspired her to learn more about bees—more specifically, how they were fighting to survive in a modern ecosystem. Coincidentally, Mikaila was preparing to enter a local children’s business competition with her family. As she puts it, Mikaila had her “thinking cap” on as she tried to come up with a clever project for the fair and a way to help save the bees. Finally, when her great-grandmother sent the family a 1940’s cookbook featuring her own special recipe for flaxseed lemonade, Mikaila knew what to do. Soon, BeeSweet Lemonade—made with flaxseed and sweetened with local honey—was born.
Year after year, BeeSweet Lemonade sold out at youth entrepreneurial events. Locals loved that the lemonade was made from locally-sourced and natural ingredients, and it made them feel good that some of the proceeds supported organizations who were working to save the honeybees. Mikaila and her family were struggling to produce BeeSweet Lemonade as quickly as it was being sold, so they pitched a potential expansion on the sixth season of the TV show ‘Shark Tank,’ earning $60,000 in funding from fashion mogul Daymond John. Finally, Mikaila’s business was approached by Whole Foods, one of the largest health food grocery chains on the planet. While the details of the contract are unknown, southerners can expect to find BeeSweet Lemonade in 55 Whole Foods stores throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana within the next several weeks. If the tasty lemonade does well, its contract will be expanded to cover other regions of the United States.
Mikaila’s BeeSweet Lemonade has won a variety of entrepreneurial awards, including the African American Harvest Foundation Story Changer Award and Environmental Entrepreneur Award. This year, Mikaila was invited to the White House’s Easter Egg Roll, where she served the President a glass of fresh, honey-sweet lemonade.
This summer, BeeSweet Lemonade will be rebranded as Me & The Bees.